Is Peyton Manning’s Injury Staged?
In March of 2011, the NFL Indianapolis Colts announced that star quarterback Peyton Manning had undergone surgery to relieve neck pain.
In a release, the team said, “This condition has existed intermittently for the past four years, but at no time did it interfere with his training, practice or playing regimen. While it never has affected Peyton’s activity on or off the field, the Colts’ medical staff, after post-playoff examination, thought it best to resolve the situation now.”
So, let me get this straight. The NFL player with the longest active streak of games started (and second all-time with 227 games) was to miss games due to a surgery to fix an injury that really isn’t an injury. And now, Manning is expected to miss the entire season due to this bizarre condition. This is also coming off a contract extension for Manning, a labor dispute with the NFL owners and players’ association, and oh yeah, the Super Bowl is scheduled to be in Indianapolis at the end of the season.
Why does all that matter? In JSBM’s political thriller Gods of Ruin, the protagonist—Com DeGroot—is a former professional basketball player who was presented with a dilemma from the league officials after being injured one game: become one of the stars of the game, but lose on purpose. The theory is that the league is concerned with revenue first. Games—especially playoff games—must be close to be entertaining and large market teams should win over small-market teams the vast majority of times to maximize fan interest. Play must be controlled to some extent to prevent blowouts every game, which would diminish interest. DeGroot decided not to play instead of intentionally losing.
So, what does that have to do with Manning? Well, the fact that one of the NFL’s healthiest players of all time comes down with a season-ending injury the same year that the Super Bowl being held in his team’s city just might not be a coincidence. While, having a hometown team in the Super Bowl would be exciting for that city, it’s certainly less profitable. NFL boosters estimate that the Super Bowl is worth about $500 million to the host city. You can imagine that if the host team played in the big game, much of the approximately 100,000 fans that participate in the activities wouldn’t need to book hotel rooms, go out to eat, drive rental cars, etc. I estimate that the city would lose out on about $125 million of the total if their team was in the game and no city wants to miss out on that kind of money. So the profit motive says that host teams shouldn’t play in the Super Bowl.
History proves this. In the history of Super Bowls, no team has ever hosted the big game, though Pasadena and Stanford hosted the nearby LA Rams and SF 49ers the 1980 and ’85 Super Bowls, respectively. In fact, since the NFL has gone to an 8-team playoff system in 2002, no host team has even made the playoffs and only two have had double-digit win seasons.
You can call it a coincidence if you want, but I think something’s fishy. I’m thinking Peyton Manning was “DeGrooted.” His boss came to him with a dilemma, you can be MVP this year, but you won’t have a chance at winning the Super Bowl—in fact the team is going to miss the playoffs altogether. It is just too costly for the league and the city. Peyton decided to opt out and forgo his consecutive starts streak rather than play to lose, side-stepping the dilemma by the corrupt, money-grubbing league officials and NFL owners.
Or, the guy was really injured. There’s always that possibility.